Tekomai (Japanese Traditional Dance) (手古舞)

Tekomai is a dance performed to lead floats or omikoshi (portable shrine) in a festival. It is performed by women wearing flamboyant costumes and thick makeup.

The Tekomai started in the middle Edo period when geisha dressed as men turned up to lead a float.

Nowadays, in regions where the geisha quarter has disappeared, young women, or sometimes pre-school girls (and rarely, small boys), dress up as men.

The costumes are a scarlet and colorfully embroidered juban (underwear), slightly somber kimono (wide-sleeved, not short-sleeved), a pants-type hakama called Tattsuke and a bamboo hanagasa hat decorated with artificial flowers (the same as is used for the Hanagasa Festival), and the Tekomai dancers first put on the juban, the kimono without putting an arm through one sleeve of the kimono, the hakama, and the hanagasa on their back.

The dancers usually apply Kabuki-style stage makeup, but if the dancers are not wearing a wig or are young girls, they apply formal style makeup, with other styles including those similar to folk dancers, travelling performers and ballerinas.

The dancers generally wear a ichomage-style wig, (ichomage is a ginko leaf-shaped men's hairstyle, usually seen these days on sumo wrestlers) but if the dancer is not wearing a wig or is a young girl, more feminine hairstyles such as yuiwata (traditional hairstyle worn by unmarried women), momoware (literally split peach) and chigomage (with a forelock symbolizing youth) are often seen as well. In Tochigi Prefecture, the dancers occasionally wear "anesan kaburi", where a tenugui towel covers the hair (in the past, women used to cover their hair with a Tenugui towel to keep it clean) rather than a Japanese hairstyle.

The dancers carry an iron club with 4-6 iron rings attached to the top in their right hand and a Chochin (Japanese paper lantern) with the dancer's name written on it in their left hand and march singing Kiyari (songs sung by firemen.)

Festivals where Tekomai is performed


Early August: Hachinohe Sansha Taisai Festival (Hachinohe City)
Mid-September: Grand Festival at Morioka Hachiman-gu Shrine (Morioka City)

Northern Kanto

Mid-April: Ogano Haru Matsuri (Ogano Spring Festival) (Ogano-machi)
Mid-April: Nikko Yayoi Matsuri Festival (Nikko City)
May 8: Kanbutsue (Buddha's-birthday celebration) at Kosen-ji Temple (Kusatsu-machi) (Tekomai consisting of six elementary school children leads a chigogyoretsu (kids parade)).
Early July: Chochin Matsuri (Lantern Festival) (Kuki City)
Late July: Summer Festival (Moka City)
Late July: Fujioka Matsuri Festival (Fujioka City)
When Gunma Prefectural gubernatorial and Upper House elections are held, the festival is held in late August.
Late July: Haramachi Gion Festival (Higashiagatsuma-machi)
Early August: Numata Matsuri Festival (Numata City)
Early August: Kiryu Yagibushi Matsuri (Dance Festival) (Kiryu City)
Early August: Omama Matsuri Festival (Midori City)
Early August: Nakanojo Gion Festival (Nakanojo-machi)
Early September: Ise-machi Gion Matsuri (Nakanojo-machi)
Around the Respect-for-Senior-Citizens Day (mid-September): Ishioka no Omatsuri Festival (Ishioka City)
Early October: Kawagoe Matsuri Festival (Kawagoe City)
Early October: Maebashi Matsuri Festival (Maebashi City)
Mid-October: Autumn Festival (Kanuma City)
November 2-3: Honjo Matsuri Festival (Honjo City)
Early November: Hanno Matsuri Festival (Hanno City)
Mid-November: Tochigi Aki-matsuri (Tochigi Autumn Festival) (Tochigi City) (once every two years, next one in 2008)

Southern Kanto

Mid-April: Ooka Echizen Sai Festival (Chigasaki City)
May 2-3: Ome Taisai Festival (Ome City)
Mid-May: Kanda Matsuri Festival at Kanda-jinja shrine (Chiyoda Ward and Chuo Ward, Tokyo) (Grand Festival is held every two years, next one in 2009.)
Mid-May: Sanja Matsuri Festival at Asakusa-jinja Shrine (Taito Ward)
Mid-June: Sanno Matsuri Festival at Hie-jinja Shrine (Chiyoda Ward and Minato Ward, Tokyo) (Grand Festival is held every two years, next one in 2008.)
Early July: Narita Gion Matsuri Festival (Narita City)
Mid-July and Mid-October: Sawara Gion Festival (Katori City)
July 15: Summer Grand Festival at Inage Sengen-jinja Shrine (Inage Ward, Chiba City) (six elementary school children perform the tekomai while leading a children's parade)
July 17-19: Gyodo Shishi (lions guiding the way) (Miura City)
Mid-August: Grand Festival at Tomioka Hachiman-gu Shrine (Koto Ward and Chuo Ward, Tokyo) (held every three years, next one in 2008)
Mid-August: Grand Festival at Fukagawa Jinmyo-gu Shrine (Koto Ward) (held every three years, next one in 2009)
Mid-September: Grand Festival at Ushijima-jinja Shrine (Sumida Ward) (held every five years, next one in 2012)
Early October: Yokosuka Mikoshi Parade (Yokosuka City)
Mid-October: Autumn Festival (Sakura City)
November 3: Tokyo Jidai Matsuri Festival (Taito Ward)
Other regions
January 8-12: Hatsu Ebisu at Ebisu-jinja Shrine (Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City)
Actresses from Toei Kyoto Studio Park perform Tekomai or dress up as Edo Geisha (the only place in Kansai?)
Early August: Niigata Matsuri Festival (Chuo Ward, Niigata City)
November 3-5: Autumn Festival at Fujisan Hongu Sengen-taisha Shrine (Fujinomiya City)

[Original Japanese]